11 Sep

Morphological Forced Connetions

Posted in Brain Boot Camp, DIY MFA

Today’s subject is one of my favorite ways to come up with wacky new writing ideas.  Morphological Forced Connections uses a matrix (or chart) to generate ideas by combining different components at random.  This is a great way to generate random writing prompts when you’re stuck.
What you need:
–Paper and writing implement

Here’s how it works:

1)  Make a list of categories relating to what you’re going to write.  Some suggestions: genre, story structure, POV, setting, form, protagonist, antagonist, prop, or anything else that comes to mind.

2)  Under each category brainstorm 6 options.  Like this:

Genre                Plot/Story Premise              POV                    Form
Romance           Fish Out of Water                  1st                       poem
Fantasy             Underdog                               2nd                      essay
SciFi                  Pygmalion                              3rd                       story
Thriller              Quest                                      Omniscient          flash fiction
Chick Lit           Star-Crossed Lovers            Peripheral            novella in verse
Picture Book     Revenge                                 Objective             email/twitter

3)  For each category roll the dice and circle or highlight the choice from each list accordingly.  The prompt for the example above is: Fantasy story about star-crossed lovers, told in 1st person through the email/twitter format.

4)  Now write.

Note: Sometimes it seems like the combination you got isn’t actually going to work.  “What do you mean I’m supposed to write a thriller quest story as an omniscient poem?”  The idea here isn’t to come up with the premise for the next great American novel.  Rather, the goal is to shake up your thinking and make you see connections you ordinarily wouldn’t see.

Today’s Task:  Come up with your own morphological forced connection prompt.  If you like, share your prompt in the comments or borrow a prompt from a fellow DIY MFAer.


Comments on this post

  1. Janice says:

    I didn't have a dice so I scrunched up the choices and had my toddler pick them.

    I got a romance novel in 1st person with a modern day cowboy that involves an escape.

    Not bad, I could work with this 🙂

    1. Hello. My name is Elizabeth. says:

      An avant-garde erotic romance about a too stupid to live heroine and a tycoon hero, as they go from rags to riches and back again, told in peripheral POV.

      So basically, I'm supposed to sex up The Great Gatsby. 😉

      1. WritersBlockNZ says:

        LOL I tried to make up my current WIP with the lists above to see what it fitted into. Genre was easy – fantasy, but under plot, my WIP fits with Fish out of Water, Underdog, Star Crossed Lovers, AND Revenge. Great writing prompt idea!

        1. Najela says:

          Chick lit, fish out of water, 3rd, flash fiction. This one sounds interesting.

          1. Bekah says:

            There are some really fun places on the web I've used to get my brain thinking that have wacky character combos or names. This really doest get the brain going and good for a laugh sometimes. I think I got burglar nanny…

            1. Sonia says:

              Love this! Another great idea to help people combat writer's block.

              1. darksculptures says:

                I suffer more from writer's lazy than the actual block. I have more story ideas than I could write in a lifetime. I just need to use my time wisely.

                In hindsight, it is probably because I use techniques like this to generate story ideas. (The Duh-bulb just came on.)

                1. kathanink says:

                  I am completely stealing from Darksculptures and using the term "writer's lazy." When I put my BIC I can usually get going. BIC (and complications of life) is usually my problem.

                  But I am going to give this a shot – it sounds fun!!

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